For Monica Gupta, founder of Craftsvilla.com, a simple liking turns into a soulful entrepreneurial venture. Reshma S. Kulkarni
What was that “ahha” moment that spurred the idea of beginning such a unique platform like www.craftsvilla.com?
My road trip to Kutch was the changing point in my life. I felt that there is so much out there that needs a good marketing platform and can be given to the consumer at a reasonable price. The jewellery made by designers and artisans do not burn a hole in your pocket if we can get them directly from the original source. E-commerce being a huge space in terms or products, buyers and sellers made me start www.craftsvilla.com
Do you share a love for baubles yourself? Was that a source for inspiration as well?
Oh yes! I love to wear small jhumkas, danglers and other jewellery myself. The kind of jewellery you wear defines and conveys your mood. Just a few little trinkets can liven up your mood. I used to love beaded jewellery that my mother had. Baubles at Craftsvilla started when I realised that the kind of casual jewellery I want are actually not very expensive if we can bring these micro entrepreneurs online directly to your doorstep.
What made you feel the need to give a dose of elixir to dying crafts?
My meeting with a guy called Soheil was an awakening. He was going to discontinue his profession of doing beautiful ‘tie and dye' as he could not get the right price for his products. This was because he sold to middlemen who did not pay him well. I felt that traditional art and craft will die and the next generation will have no clue about true Indian colours. I brought Soheil online on www.craftsvilla.com to sell directly to avid buyers who actually pay the right price to him. Buyers are also happy as they get the products cheap and know the person behind the product.
What challenges did you face in the period from the germination of this idea to getting the portal running?
My major challenge was getting the right kind of people who share the passion and social cause. The other problem was to make artisans understand how they can get good prices for their products if they sell directly.
Was it difficult to convince the organisations working with you, about the perceived success of this model?
There were some organisations with whom I had worked before. They were the first ones to come online. Then by word of mouth and team efforts helped us get more organisations online. Challenge paves a way to success.
Why a portal instead of going the routine way of starting a shop or supplying the baubles to high-end fashion boutiques etc?
Well, online is a huge world! The e-commerce industry is $ one billion and growing at 20 per cent. There is no space constraint so we can showcase millions of products in one shop. Similarly, an online store reaches millions of customers without any geographical constraint. This is what primarily motivated me to start our webstore.
What has been the response to this idea so far?
Initially it was difficult for buyers to trust us. Our dedicated customer service and vendor service helped us gain that trust and now we have a dedicated set of customers who can vouch for our products and services. Our traction can be seen on our Facebook page. We plan to have Rs. 25 crore sales next year.
The prices of the products are very reasonable, contrary to what we find in high-end stores. What's the concept behind this nominal pricing?
You get all the products directly from its creators. This helps today's trend-setting females every day as it doesn't burn a hole in their pocket. This pricing helps the designers and artisans to increase their sales and in turn their income. It helps them survive and pass on the skills to the next generation.
You left a lucrative job to start this portal. Was there never a sense of “what if this doesn't work”?
It is a difficult decision to start a company as negative thoughts do come. But my positive thinking comes from my children and husband. They teach me to move forward.